The Avengers Movie ReviewLeave the first response April 30, 2012 / Posted in The Avengers Articles, The Avengers Movie
If superhero movies now shoulder the responsibility of being our era’s moral parables, then “The Avengers” is a rocket-powered boost to the tops of mounts Olympus, Rushmore and Sinai.
Or, in less highfalutin words: Folks, these flicks don’t get any better than this.
Directed by Joss Whedon and tying together the “Iron Man,” “Incredible Hulk,” “Thor” and “Captain America” movies, this mega-entertaining “Avengers” film is something comic fans have dreamed of since Marvel debuted the title almost 50 years ago.
The filmmakers — including Whedon and co-writer Zak Penn — are aware of the power they wield, and so make sure the movie not only meets expectations but also is accessible to everyone. They succeed with flying colors, injecting our real world with Marvel-style myth. They even make sure to frame the cast in several valiant, poster-ready tableaux.
After seeing those, 12-year-old boys, and their dads, should be ready to decide who they’d be.
As for the (slightly dense) plot, things start fast. As scientists examine the Tesseract — a blue cube, first seen in last year’s “Captain America” and “Thor,” that opens a door to other worlds — the evil demigod Loki (Tom Hiddleston) emerges from it and starts turning men into minions, including government agent Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner).
In response, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, including Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), kick-start the Avengers Initiative, bringing together Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the once-frozen WWII hero Steve “Captain America” Rogers (Chris Evans) and split personality Dr. Bruce “Hulk” Banner (Mark Ruffalo).
Once the Asgardian god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hits Earth to deal with his half-brother Loki, the team is in place.
But that doesn’t mean they fit. Intrapersonal conflicts nearly derail the mission (there are super-sized egos and super-issues involved). Stark provokes man-out-of-time Captain America, whose powers were funded by Stark’s dad. Thor, for his part, considers Loki a family issue. And Banner works at keeping calm so he doesn’t turn into a huge green rage monster till the time is right.
Whedon avoids choppy, whiplash-edited action scenes in favor of a measured elegance. And his genre sensibility is pop-retro; if you can’t quite hear pages turn, you can certainly let your eyes linger (especially during one panorama-style shot, set to Alan Silvestri’s lush John Barry-style score, that locates each hero mid-fight). This is how it should be: Everything’s in its place, so why rush?
Most refreshingly, these ultra-powered characters are ultra-human. Funny, conflicted and in need of guidance, they also know how to put on a good show — a handy trait when you’re wearing spandex and armor costumes.
The film does, too. Loki’s appearance at a German opera house is a classic grandstanding villain scene halted by Captain America’s mighty shield. And whereas the mid-section features a battle in a contained space — S.H.I.E.L.D.’s invisible flying battleship — the final 40 minutes is a massive rumble across Manhattan as Loki’s alien army and their giant flying bug-things burn the city until the Avengers assemble to thwart them.
We wouldn’t care about them collectively if we didn’t know them individually, and it helps to have four Oscar nominees in this bunch. Ruffalo is the revelation, turning Banner into a wry reservoir of calm ready to become a volcano (and his CGI Hulk actually provides big laughs). Evans conveys Captain America’s confusion at being decades away from home, and Downey’s Stark is again a wisecracking wonder with a heart that cracks when a member of the film series is lost.
They anchor a superb group effort. Most impressive of all, “The Avengers” makes superhero movies new again — a colossal task indeed.